White Plains: Sloane Stephens will lead the US Fed Cup team that is without the Williams sisters for the World Group first-round against Italy on February 9 and 10. US captain Mary Joe Fernandez also included doubles specialist Liezel Huber and rookies Varvara Lepchenko and Jamie Hampton.
Stephens is ranked a career-high No. 17 after beating Serena Williams to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open. She is in line to make her Fed Cup singles debut against the Italians.
Serena Williams, who hurt her back in the quarter-final loss to Stephens, played in the most recent US match in the Fed Cup - a 5-0 victory over Ukraine in a World Group playoff in April last year.
The match will be played on indoor red clay in Rimini, Italy. The Italian team is led by No. 7 Sara Errani and No. 16 Roberta Vinci.